Kathleen M. Pike, PhD

Why Now?

George Floyd was killed on 25 May 2020. His death has triggered protests around the country, indeed, around the world. But racism and abuse of power are not new. So what is it about this particular moment? What accounts for the rage – and outrage – now? “Why now?” is the

It’s Enough Already

Disruptive. Topsy Turvey. Unprecedented. These have been the go-to adjectives in this era of COVID-19. Nary a Zoom meeting, conversation, or webinar this week escaped reference to challenges of our time. Amidst it all, mental health concerns have been front and center. Here are my go-to qualifiers about mental health

Among the Most Vulnerable in Our Communities

Much has been written about the stress on communities wrought by COVID-19. From everyday social isolation to postponing weddings and graduations to conducting virtual Passover Seders, Easter Egg hunts, and even funerals. In contrast, we have heard little from or about the communities of individuals with serious mental illness during

With Our Young and With Our Old

The eight days of Passover begin next Wednesday evening. Depending on family traditions, the Seder can take hours and hours or be quite brief. But in all cases, it is essential to recount the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt as if we were experiencing it ourselves. As the story

Recovery is a Verb

When will it end? How many more days until it is over? All of us are asking these questions every day about COVID-19. It’s natural that we do so. This is the way we typically frame our questions about ill health. Most of us think of recovery as an endpoint,


“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how,’” wrote Viktor Frankl in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Equally, the absence of ‘why’ can make unbearable almost any ‘how.’ We live in a world where it is easy to be busy. The challenge before us

Start of Spring Semester

Columbia University spring semester started this week. How lovely and hopeful that the semester that starts in the dead of winter, is called spring semester. I started teaching the course “Priorities in Global Mental Health” in 2014. In recent years my colleague, Professor Tahilia Rebello has joined me in co-teaching


With the start of the new year and new decade, the color company Pantone has named classic blue (Pantone 19-4052) as its 2020 color of the year. With 1867 colors to choose from, Pantone says that classic blue has “a reassuring presence instilling calm, confidence and connection.” Isn’t it interesting

How To Change Your Mind

That’s the first part of the title of Michael Pollan’s most recent best-selling book. The rest of the title is, What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Pollan is the consummate storyteller. Remember Omnivore’s Dilemma? I just finished How to Change Your Mind, and

Canine Companions and Mental Health

Canis lupus familiaris. Man’s best friend. We all know that is Fido (or for me, Nike). No other interspecies relationship compares to the one that exists between humans and dogs. And this week at the Gerontological Society Association (GSA) Meeting in Austin, I discovered that dogs are teaching us about

Many Thanks to our 2019 Summer Interns

This summer, we have had thirteen interns working here in New York City with Columbia faculty and post-docs to advance mental health research, policy and advocacy. To name just a few projects: Interns were engaged in developing e-learning training modules, researching mental health providers’ attitudes towards prescribing psychotropic medications, and

What did America’s Founding Fathers Know about Mental Illness?

Beyond the fireworks and grilled burgers, July 4th is a day to celebrate America’s Founding Fathers. We all know that they were an exceptional bunch who led the War of Independence from Great Britain and drafted the Declaration of Independence among other things. But what did they know and do

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